On Thursday night's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews presided over, and even participated in, over a heated debate between Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. The two ideological opposites clashed over gay marriage, adoption and the overarching issue of homosexuality.
The conversation started with a pointed question at Perkins, who recently said in a CNN interview that he doubts his children would end up gay due to he and his wife having taught them to interact properly as individuals. Matthews asked, "What do you mean by that? If he's gay, he's gay, right? What would you have to do with whether he's gay or not?"
This is where the groundwork was laid for intense controversy between Perkins and Frank.
"When you look at the social science research, there is not conclusive evidence that this is genetic or biological. It is a complex mix of environmental factors," Perkins responded. "And when you can control many of those environmental factors, you can teach your kids certain ways you can protect them from certain experiences and certain things that could happen to them that could lead them down a certain path."
This, of course, was largely refuted by Frank, who disagreed vehemently that homosexuality is something that can be controlled.
"According to Mr. Perkins, it’s Dick Cheney’s fault that his daughter was a lesbian. First of all, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, and secondly, the notion that Cheney parented in an inferior way to Mr. Perkins is an absurdity," Frank said. "I don’t think Mr. Cheney taught his daughter to act 'improperly' and she became a lesbian. I know of no such evidence that the parents have an effect one way or another."
Frank, who characterized Perkins' ideals as "absurdity," also said that he doesn't know of any individual who has chosen his or her sexual orientation. He said that this is true of individuals who are both gay and straight -- clearly a major difference from the sentiment that Perkins was stating.
The two went on to bicker over gay marriage, homosexual adoption and plenty more.
"I believe that changing the definition of marriage is problematic," Perkins said.
"Nothing about letting me marry Jim is going to interfere with anyone else’s ability and right to have children," Frank later countered. "Many marriages don’t produce children. People who are beyond the age marry. People who are infertile marry."
Watch the debate, below:
Frank, of course, has a vested interest in this issue as he is currently engaged to his longtime partner, Jim Ready. In an interview with CNN this week, the congressman showed off his engagement ring and discussed these same issues with host Erin Barnett.
Watch it, below: